There are a number of very good reasons that you should keep your fingers out of your eyes, especially at a time like this- when the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire. But this concept isn't new. Doctors have encouraged people not to touch their eyes (especially if they haven't washed their hands) for eons.
Eyes are a Doorway for Bacteria and Viruses
One of the most common ways someone can get a cold is by touching their eyes. Most people assume you can only get the common cold through airborne pathogens, but if those pathogens happened to cling to your fingers, and then you wipe your eyes- you just exposed yourself to that cold.
The same can happen with any bacteria or viruses. When you rub your eyes after coming into contact with bacteria or a virus, you are allowing it to enter your eye and are at a higher risk of an eye infection. Tear ducts are actually an easy way for bacteria or viruses to spread quickly throughout the body.
The Link Between Coronavirus and Eye Infections
As medical professionals continue to study the novel coronavirus COVID-19, they are increasingly becoming aware of a link between it and eye infections. This is still an ongoing study, but they are finding that there are clear effects on eye health. This is not entirely surprising given that the coronavirus family has affected eye health across the board. However, this is why the CDC and WHO, and all other medical professionals, are stressing the importance of not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth at this time (especially).
Since there is currently not a vaccine or medical approach to combating COVID-19, medical professionals are just treating symptoms. Because they are only able to treat symptoms and eye infections are one of those symptoms, eye doctors are increasingly on the front lines of helping patients with COVID-19.
Wash Your Hands
Any medical professional, including an eye doctor, will tell you: this is not a time to be lazy about your hygiene. We're hearing "wash your hands" so much right now that you may be feeling pretty over it, but that doesn't diminish its importance! Washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds and avoiding touching your face as much as possible helps decrease your chances of being attacked by bacteria or viruses. This helps protect you, your loved ones, and anyone else you come into contact with. Please, do your part to protect others!
If you find yourself getting red, irritated eyes, then call your eye doctor right away to get checked out! Any infection needs to be treated right away to prevent further harm to your eyes.